Pablo Atchugarry writes stories in marble with his chisel. His beautiful sculptures lift the material to a higher level and show it in all its splendour and simplicity. The South American artist brings stone to life in his – according to his own words – contemporary artworks.
From an early age, Pablo Atchugarry has shown artistic talent and an interest in art. After some experimenting with different materials he was enchanted by the beauty and elegance of marble. Since he created his first sculpture in Carrara – one of the purest and whitest forms of Italian marble – entitled La Lumière, he has been committed to natural stone and works almost exclusively with this material for his sculptures. His exceptional pieces have now been exhibited in various international galleries and museums. Last year, the Belgian Christophe Boon also proudly exhibited Atchugarry's works in his Boon Gallery in Knokke. "Atchugarry is one of the few contemporary artists who still makes his works of art entirely by hand, real craftsmanship. Each marble is unique and moreover his style is timeless, which is why his works of art are traded from Miami to Hong Kong," says Christophe.
Imagicasa managed to talk to Pablo Atchugarry in an exclusive interview.
What does art mean to you? Do you have any artworks in your own home?
“Art is the most sublime expression of man and for me it means a testimony of life. And yes, many. I like the coexistence of art and works of different artists.”
How did you become a sculptor?
“After having ventured into painting and drawing, I felt the need to express myself in the third dimension. To see the object in its 360 degrees.”
What other artists inspire you, who do you look up to?
“There are many artists who have inspired me, but above all, I choose Michelangelo Buonarroti. For the legacy of his wonderful work, always current, and for his lifelong love and dedication to marble. If I had to choose my favourite contemporary artist, I’d say Constantine Brâncusi.”
"I consider my works as plants and trees that try to discover the light."
How would you describe your works and which project are you most proud of?
“I consider my works as plants and trees that try to discover the light. They are like an energy that is released. Maybe the work that has impacted me the most and that I am very proud of is Dreaming Peace, which is an installation of eight pieces created in 2003 especially for the fiftieth Venice Biennial.”
You seem to love marble. Why is that and which type do you prefer?
“Marble has become the main material in which I express myself because it leads me to nature and the origins of creation. I mainly use that statuary marble from Carrara, which was used by Michelangelo among others. I also love to use the gray Bardiglio from Garfagnana, the pink marble from Portugal and Belgian black marble.”
What is your work process for creating these sculptures?
“My work process begins by choosing a block in the quarry. There, a direct relationship with the marble is established and from that moment I start to discover and project the sculpture that already inhabits the block.” What inspires you for your sculptures and do you ever create art in other forms?
“Above all, I am inspired by the search for an internal image, which tries to express itself through a dialogue, between very thin lines, almost to the limit of what the material allows. It is a part of full volumes and other non-existent ones or voids. With those elements I try to compose the sculpture, giving it the best possible balance. And yes, painting, drawing and ceramics were artistic expressions that accompanied me for a long time. Currently, I am also working with bronze besides marble.”
Why did you set up the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation?
“The foundation is the result of an experience matured between trips in Europe and the United States and through the knowledge of other foundations and sculpture parks that I have visited. At some point in my life, I felt the need to transmit that experience through the creation of a space that valued art in all its expressions. So, after eleven years of experience in Uruguay, we will open a second Foundation in Miami in December 2018, with the aim of promoting an artistic circuit between both foundations and continue with our didactic art program for all ages.” How do you see the future?
“There are two projects that interest me very much and that I look forward to for 2019. That year also coincides with the fortieth birthday of my first marble sculpture and my own 65th birthday. One of the projects is the public exhibition at the Pietrasanta square and in the Sant Agostino church. The other is the realization of a limited edition book, entitled ‘Moments of a lifetime’ that will be published by Skira, in which my artistic life is told through unpublished photos.”
This interview was originally published in Imagicasa Art (december 2018).
Images: Boon Gallery